Pay attention to what’s going on in a two-stoplight town in Kentucky.

It could be headed in your direction.

Will you raise your sails or batten down the hatches until is passes by?

Just as United Methodists in many congregations across the USA have been dashing towards the disaffiliation deadline or gnashing their teeth in frustration at the Gordian Knot of denominational gamesmanship, or walking away from “organized religion once and for all”, God is up to something.

It’s worth paying attention to what’s going in little Wilmore, Kentucky at Asbury University. As a reminder, the school is named after Francis Asbury, sent from England to the American colonies by John Wesley in 1771. Asbury is often called the “Father of American Methodism.” The Historical Link between Francis Asbury and Asbury University.

Well, as they say, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since 1771. And Methodism, at least United Methodism these days in America, is marked by contention, conflict, and disintegration. If you’re a Methodist you’ve probably been ruminating on the decision of whether to “fight or flee.”

It’s worth taking a moment, if you haven’t already, to pay attention to what God is up to among Gen Z young adults at Asbury University. Is it a “revival” or an “awakening” or just a crowd-sourced emotional hiccup?

Olivia Reingold has the story…not just some facts, but the redemptive impact when the Holy Spirit flips the script entirely. Not from the United Methodist Reporter or Good News Magazine, though there have been stories there, too, but from the Substack underworld digital publication, The Free Press.

Here you go:

Why Students in Kentucky Have Been Praying for 250 Hours

Put Up the Sails or Batten Down the Hatches?

Despite all of our denominational efforts to regulate the grace of God through our resolutions, policies, proclaimed priorities, and political wrangling, God Almighty still shows up like a bull in a China shop or, to cite the biblical example, like Jesus overturning the normal humdrum of the Temple in Jerusalem (see Matthew 21:12,13 and parallels in Mark 11:15-18 and Luke 19:45,46).

The Gospels also record the reaction of the religious leaders to the “outbreak of Jesus” overturning the regular and customary orderliness of Temple operations. In Matthew’s gospel we are told the religious leaders are indignant at the action of Jesus and, apparently even more, at the joyful singing of children who observed it all. The Gospels of Mark and Luke succinctly sum up the jarring contrast between the religious leaders and the “regular folks”:

After that, he (Jesus) taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.

Luke 19:47,48

Hang on every word of Jesus or evict him from the “religious corporation”? For Gracie Turner, in response to her encounter with the Holy Spirit in Hughes Auditorium, I imagine there is probably no question at all: Jesus is the healer of the heart.

Is that your experience, too? Do the words of Scripture describe your own experience of redemption?

He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.

Psalm 18:16

Jesus said that the effect of the Holy Spirit is like the wind. We can experience, but we cannot control, the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. The impact, however, is unquestionably real.

What do you think has been going on in Hughes Auditorium? Much more importantly, do want to experience that touch of God as well, or do you hope no such thing will ever come near you, or your friends and family, or fill the congregation of which you are a part?

Batten down the hatches or raise the sails? Wait until it blows over or get ready for the freshening breeze to move you?

I’d encourage us to take the risk. After all, the Good Ship UMC is tilting toward capsize. Take a pause in the denominational dystopia and join the prayer of so many others, “Come, Holy Spirit!”

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REV. DR. SCOTT N. FIELD

REV. DR. SCOTT N. FIELD

Interim President
Wesleyan Covenant Association
1 Corinthians 15:58

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